When should I start looking for mortgages?

One of the most significant financial decisions in a person's life is purchasing a home, and finding the right mortgage is a crucial part of that process. While the excitement of homeownership can be tempting, timing plays a vital role in securing the best mortgage deal. So, when should you start looking for mortgages? Let's explore the factors that can help you determine the optimal time to begin your mortgage search.

Early Planning

It's never too early to start planning for a home purchase and researching mortgage options. Getting familiar with mortgage terminology, understanding interest rates, and evaluating your financial readiness can set you up for success. You can also get acquainted with what documents you might need so that there are no last-minute panics if you can’t find a certain document!

It would help if you aimed to begin this groundwork at least six to twelve months before you intend to buy a home.

Credit readiness

Your credit score greatly influences your mortgage eligibility and interest rates. Start reviewing your credit report early and work on improving your credit score if needed. A higher credit score can help you qualify for better mortgage terms, potentially saving you thousands of dollars over the life of the loan.

Market research

The housing market always fluctuates, impacting home prices and mortgage rates. Keep an eye on market trends and interest rate movements. When rates are low, it may be an opportune time to start your mortgage search. Engage with estate agents to gain insights into market conditions and potential changes on the horizon.

Pre-approval process

Getting a mortgage in principle from a lender or broker can give you a clearer picture of how much you can afford and strengthen your bargaining power when making an offer. You can start the mortgage in principle process a few months before you're ready to buy. Once you have one, they typically have a shelf life of about 60 to 90 days, so you can shop confidently within that timeframe

Life changes

Consider your circumstances when deciding when to start your mortgage search. Factors like job stability, income changes, and major life events (marriage, children, etc.) can influence your decision. Ideally, you should have a stable income and a clear understanding of your long-term plans before committing to a mortgage.

The timing of when to start looking for mortgages is a balance between early planning and being prepared for a specific home purchase. Starting your research and preparation well in advance can help you secure better mortgage terms and navigate the complex process of homeownership. 

Remember to monitor your credit, stay informed about market conditions, and seek guidance from financial and mortgage experts to ensure you make an informed and confident decision about your mortgage.

Important info & marketing claims

You may have to pay an early repayment charge to your existing lender if you remortgage. Your savings will depend on personal circumstances.

Your home may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on your mortgage.

*The savings figure of £406 is based on Better.co.uk remortgage customers in February 2024. Read more on our marketing claims page.

We can't always guarantee we will be able to help you with your mortgage application depending on your credit history and circumstances.

Average mortgage decision and approval times are based on Better.co.uk's historic data for lenders we submit applications to.

Tracker rates are identified after comparing over 12,000 mortgage products from over 100 mortgage lenders.

As of January 2023, Better.co.uk has access to over 100 lenders. This number is subject to change.

For buy-to-let landlords, there's no guarantee that it will be possible to arrange continuous letting of a property, nor that rental income will be sufficient to meet the cost of the mortgage.